Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Habs/Sabres, AHL ASG, Replacing PG, White's Return and More

Ryan White - Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins - Game Two
Morning Hab fans!

After five days, yes five whole days, without meaningful hockey, the Canadiens return to the ice tonight to face the struggling Buffalo Sabres.

The last time nos Canadiens laced up, they trounced perennial power house Detroit 7-2.

The game was so long ago and the result so unexpected, almost feels like a dream doesn't it?

Meanwhile, down in the AHL, the league held its own All-Star game last night, with the West beating out the East 8-7 in a shootout.

Frederic St-Denis was the Canadiens' organization only representative.


(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images North America)

Monday, January 30, 2012

He Said / She Said: Replacing Pierre Gauthier

Pierre Mcguire - Anaheim Ducks v Toronto Maple Leafs
With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, one question has oft been asked by both local and national media: Will Pierre Gauthier be remain at the helm for the Montreal Canadiens.

While he may survive past February 27th, it is looking increasingly likely that the Montreal Canadiens will go in a new direction with regards to its management team.

With that in mind, our resident writers Bryan Willey and Rosalyn Roy were asked about who they would like to see replace the embattled GM.

Bryan Willey: I think there is a difference between who I would like to see as GM and who will ultimately be given the role.

In my mind, the top-two candidates have to be Jim Nill and Rick Dudley. They could turn the team around in a short time and, out of the names available, are by far the most qualified. However the chances of either of them ultimately be named GM border on nil - pun intended.

Of those who have a chance, the person I would most like to see is Pierre McGuire. I have always been a fan of his, love his passion and the fact that he has knowledge for hockey at its many various levels.

He has been wrong on a couple of calls, but overall has been right a heck of a lot more.

Ultimately, I believe the GM will be one of Julien Brisebois, Serge Savard or Vincent Damphousse.

Frankly, this scares me.

Rosalyn Roy: Bryan, I am also convinced that who I want and who will be the next Habs GM are likely two different beasts.

I'd agree with you on Jim Nill, though I am not a huge fan of Dudley. Nill has an excellent track record and, of course, speaks French. Dudley doesn't and, while he did do his best with Atlanta and is now with the Leafs organization, he wouldn't be one of my first choices.

In fact, in looking at the Leafs, who are rebuilding nicely, they have a potential candidate we could pillage in Claude Loiselle, who is currently an Assistant General Manager with the club.

Negotiating and cap space management are Loiselle's strong suits, two items that have been sorely lacking in Montreal. The Tomas Kaberle acquisition to supposedly fix the power play is a good example of what not to do, and I doubt Loiselle would have made that mistake.

I do think that the next Habs GM is quite likely to be Larry Carriere. He's a direct hire by Geoff Molson and was clearly shoved behind the bench not for his hidden coaching talents but because the head office wanted eyes inside the room. Carriere also speaks the requisite French.

I'll agree that Savard is also a candidate, albeit a minor one, because he also has ties to the Molsons. Better him than Bob Gainey at this point.

Bryan Willey: It all makes you wonder why Molson has not acted yet?

I am relatively confident that Gauthier is not his man so my guess is that the man in question is currently employed by another organization.

Because of this assumption I do not think that Carriere is part of the plans going forward.

There have been reports that Molson has been in contact with Savard. My take on this is that Molson is looking at hiring a rookie GM and wants the mentoring ability of a Savard to help along the way.

Personally, I would view this as a mistake because Savard has been completely out of the loop for more than a decade. The Canadiens need someone with in-depth knowledge of the game today.

In regards to Loiselle, I wonder how important he really is in during negotiations. If the Habs wanted to sign Brad Richards for five million dollars and the Rangers offered him seven million then the chances of him coming to Montreal would hover between slim to none, regardless of Loiselle's talents.

If he is simply a means of cap management then the organization should hire one of the best CFO's in Quebec and have him run the books.

I am thinking more along the lines of bringing in a man who can bring back the cockiness, pride, and arrogance that made this team so great. In my eyes, McGuire leads that race.

Rosalyn Roy: I'm not really willing to speculate on what Molson will or will not do. I do agree Savard is well past his expiry date when it comes to GM potential. I'm pretty sick of the old boy's club that has been in charge of this club for far too long.

Contract negotiation and proper cap management are essential in the realities of today's NHL. And Loiselle has perfectly acceptable credentials and experience that extend beyond that a mere accountant would obviously lack. Whatever one may think of the Maple Leafs, Brian Burke does not fill his head office with incompetent people.

The Habs' arrogance, self-entitlement and cockiness are not attributes that have served them well in the recent past.

Pierre McGuire's passion aside, if he were as ideal a candidate as he seems to think he is, he'd have held a GM position for years now, or at least risen through the upper ranks of an NHL team.

McGuire is pretty low on my list of candidates I want retooling this team. He has bashed this team for too many years for my liking, even when they got it right like during the Jaroslav Halak for Lars Eller trade, which in hindsight was a solid deal.

He enjoys the press and sensationalizes pretty much anything and everything. He is far too emotional at times, hindering his ability for logical, clear headed decisions. And, frankly, his mouth runs most of the time

Arrogance, cockiness and pride are not what this team needs and not what has made them great in the past either. What made them great was a combination of talent, skill, hard work, a solid pipeline and good luck.

The organization needs practical solutions and I don't see anything in McGuire that makes me think he could offer more than any other mainstream pundit.

He may have been right about a lot of things, but the bottom line is I don't like him and I don't see anything that makes me trust him to retool this team either.

Bryan Willey: That's where I disagree. The best GM's surround themselves with the best talent. We need a guy with direction to surround himself with a capologist, an assistant GM, and other qualified people.

Sure, bring Loiselle in to help with cap but not as the guy making key decisions. Kind of like Nill to Holland or Brisebois to Yzerman.

This needs to be done with a team effort.

Rosalyn Roy: If we're talking mouthpiece only who can pander to the press while his underlings do all the actual work then yes, Pierre McGuire will suffice nicely.

Claude Loiselle ran Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate and, as a result, has experience assessing upcoming talent. As an ex-hockey player he is still young enough to have some insight into the game that does not pre-date the last Canadiens Cup win. It's not solely about his experience in the financial end of things, but rather his resume as a whole.

As an experienced assistant GM for two NHL teams now, he's got solid credentials and experience that I find sorely lacking McGuire.

Bryan Willey: Regardless, McGuire is still my choice. A local guy with an indepth knowledge of all levels of hockey.

It's easy to assume that his knowledge is courtesy of the the TSN team, but it isn't. He calls the local TSN 990 everyday and has conversations on so many players, their stats, their home town and their junior careers.

His experience as an assistant GM is from to long ago, but his critical comments towards a lack of scouting in Quebec, his comments on the Habs' horrendous pro scouting, everything is spot on.

Regardless of expeirence, I like his attitude and the fact he is right a lot more than he is wrong.




What do you think? Who would you choose as the Habs next GM?


---
Bryan is a Marketer by day, writer for HabsAddict.com by night and full time fan of the game. Follow me on twitter @BryanWilley78 but don't bother looking for me on Facebook, I'm just too old for that now!

Rosalyn used to frequent the old Forum during her early childhood when her father was a corporate season ticket holder, where she fell in love with Larry Robinson, so her lifelong obsession with the Habs is entirely his fault.

He Said / She Said is regular column on HabsAddict slated to appear on a bi-weekly basis.


(Photo by Getty Images North America)

Habs News, ASG, Rumors and More

Carey Price Goalie Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens and team Chara signs autographs for fans during the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game at Scotiabank Place on January 29, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Morning pucks fans.

Now that the All-Star break has passed, we are now officially looking towards the final stretch of the season.

And, naturally, with this time of year comes many questions.

What do you expect to see over the final 30 games or so?

Will Montreal make a push for the playoffs? Will another team surprise? What moves will be made at the deadline?

So many questions indeed. 



( Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Price shines at ASG skills, CBA negotiations, Leafs, Lightning, Rumours and more

Morning puck addicts!

So did you enjoy the All-Star skills competition yesterday? I did. Moreover, how freakin' entertaining was Carey Price all mic'd up?

It's funny, because most in Montreal that cover the Canadiens are pretty familiar with his sense of humour. But, yesterday, the rest of the league's fans got a taste of Price's hilarity during the breakaway challenge.

After the contest, Price was trending in all sorts of weird places like, umm, Boston.

Comments like "Wow, I really like Price now" were abound.

And, to me, that is the best part about the ASG. Fans get to see the players in a light they normally don't. Relaxed, goofing around, and just being themselves.

I like it!

And on that note, I'm out of here. Off to Barcelona for 10 days. See you all on the flip-side!

Habs News

HabsAddict.com - Changeup: The Montreal Canadiens are Showing Signs of Life

Habs by the numbers: Jeremy Roenick on the Montreal Canadiens

Hockey Inside/Out - Images: Habs’ Price, Diaz in all-star action

Hockey News

TSN - NHL, NHLPA ARE TIP-TOEING INTO CBA NEGOTIATIONS

SIEGEL: BURKE PLEASED WITH LEAFS' TRIO OF ALL-STARS

PREDATORS' SUTER UNLIKELY TO SIGN BEFORE TRADE DEADLINE

CROSBY DIAGNOSED WITH NECK INJURY; STILL HOPEFUL TO RETURN

CHARA BREAKS RECORD; TEAM ALFIE WINS ALL-STAR SKILLS BATTLE

PowerScout Hockey - Tampa Bay Lightning: Playoff hopes dashed?

ESPN - Gary Bettman, Donald Fehr: No date yet

THN - THN at the All-Star Game: Skills competition makes for night of pure fun

THN at the All-Star Game: Bettman, Fehr play down CBA doom

Spector's Hockey - NHL Trade Rumors – Saturday, January 28, 2012

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Changeup: The Montreal Canadiens are Showing Signs of Life

Hello Habs Nation!

My name is Sean Lloyd and this is my first post as a member of the Habs Addict team. Starting in February I will be providing you with bi-weekly reviews of the Habs performances, as well as random pieces here and there.

Seeing as this is my first post, I'll take a somewhat positive angle on what has been a dismal season thus far.

So enjoy!

Over the past three contests, the Habs have collected five out of a possible six points. The point they failed to collect was in last Fridays shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a game in which they gave up a two-goal lead.

The blown lead was easy to forget less than a week later when Montreal trounced the league leading Detroit Red Wings 7-2.

With one game left to play in January the Habs have a chance to complete the calendar month above .500 for the first time this season. Montreal is 5-3-2 so far and look to continue their winning ways next Tuesday when they host the struggling Buffalo Sabres.

While it is still an incredibly large hill to climb in order to make the post season, the Canadiens are giving their fans something to cheer about which has been rare so far in what has been a painful season for the Habs faithful.

An offensive spark

The Canadiens may be making life hard on the optimists this season, but their top line has been providing a spark as of late to a team that is in desperate need of a boost.

David Desharnais has put up 14 points in his last 12 games (4-10), Erik Cole has collected 16 points in his last 13 games (6-7) and Max Pacioretty seems to have regained his stride earning nine points in his last nine games. Patches has found the back of the net six times and has added three helpers in that span.

Defenseman Alexei Emelin also notched his first career NHL goal in the win over the Red Wings, and Rafael Diaz will be participating in this weekend’s all star festivities as a rookie.

Nos Glorieux will need to fly out of the gates into the second half of the season much like what the New Jersey Devils of last year did in order to play past the first week of April.

The Devils took the second half of last season by storm with an impressive 21-9-2 record, earning 44 out of a possible 64 points.

Montreal currently sits in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with 47 points. Last season, the eighth seeded New York Rangers qualified for the post season with 93 points.

The Habs would need 46 points in order to finish the 2012 campaign with that total.

The Canadiens have played with new life over the past week, but their miserable play leading up to this point has many fans wondering; is this recent surge too little, too late?

What do you think? Is there still time?

---
Sean is a freelance writer currently contributing to HabsAddict.com. He is also a regular blogger and frequent panelist on the Habs post game show at MontrealHockeyTalk.com

You can follow Sean on Twitter.

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Habs by the numbers: Jeremy Roenick on the Montreal Canadiens

Good day Puck Addicts!

As reported in our daily news post this morning, Jeremy Roenick spoke to RDS about the P.K. Subban situation, as well as the Habs in general.

As much as I have to agree with the generalities he states about Subban, I simply can not avoid commenting on the outrageous remarks that he's made on the Habs. And not just in the RDS article but also in the December 29th edition of his blog.

For those who might be interested, his blog is humbly called: "The World according to JR", and can be found on the NHL's official web site.

Erik Cole

Here's what JR had to say about Cole:

1) "Erik Cole has had a decent season, but he doesn't have anybody to play with that can match his speed".

2) "Erik Cole est également un excellent joueur, mais il est avant tout un très bon complément."

Well, this one will be easy. Erik Cole is simply having a career year; over 82 games, he's set to have his best year ever in terms of goals scored, assists, points, PP goals (even though the Habs have had the worst PP all year) and shots on net.

You're right JR; this would have to be considered a "decent" season.

Habs have no playmaker

Here's what Mr. Roenick had to say about Tomas Plekanec: "The Canadiens don't have a playmaker every night that sets up their goal scorers...Tomas Plekanec, who might be their best playmaker, is two games on, one game off, two games off, one game on."

I will assume that JR would have a different opinion would the Habs have the luxury of counting of a first line centerman such as Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Kesler, John Tavares or Patrick Marleau.

Well, since 2009-10 and in over 200 regular season games, Plekanec has had more assists than all these "big names", and in less games than each of them.

During that period of time, Plekanec ranks 16th in the league. See chart below:

Habs a very small team

Here's the un-researched (that's polite, no?) comment that our favorite new NHL blogger made to RDS: "En plus d’un manque de talent, le Canadien forme une petite équipe alors que, dans notre ère, les joueurs sont gros, forts et talentueux. C’est difficile pour eux de gagner régulièrement en raison de ce facteur."

And he added the following on his blog, in the article stated earlier: "The Canadiens also are a very small team that gets pushed around too much. Their lack of size and speed in the big and fast NHL forces them to work extra hard to win games. That's never a recipe for extended success."

Well, if you look at the chart pasted below, the Habs are the ninth heaviest team in the league. Also, all 30 teams are either 6'0" or 6'1" on average, and the Habs fall under the 6'1" category.

If Montreal is one the "heaviest" teams and one of the taller, it can't be just because of Hal Gill! Unless I'm mistaken, I count exactly five regular Canadiens who fit under the 6'0" mark: David Desharnais (5'7"), Raphael Diaz (5'11"), Brian Gionta (5'7"), Scott Gomez (5'11") and Plekanec (5'11").

With Michael Blunden, Rene Bourque, Cole, Lars Eller, Travis Moen and Max Pacioretty all being forwards over 6'2", how can someone who follows hockey not know that Montreal can no longer be considered a "small team" up front? One could argue they have a "shortish" center line, but Roenick's comment was about the whole team.

On defense, only the two Swiss countrymen, Diaz and Weber, are under 6'0" (both are 5'11).

How can one say the Habs are still a small team? I certainly don't feel they get pushed around too much. Has anyone else had that feeling lately? Is Montreal still a "small" vulnerable team?

The numbers say no, but what do you say?

---
Frank Dumais is a freelance writer, currently contributing to HabsAddict.com “Habs By the numbers” weekly column. He writes on current Habs topics, but with a “numbers twist”.

Follow Frank on Twitter


(Photo by Mark Von Holden/Getty Images North America)

ASG gets underway, Roenick on Subban, Flames Trade Morrison, Rumours and more

Morning puck addicts!

So how do you feel this morning not having had any hockey to watch last night?

Refreshed, and happy to have a break? Or jonesing like the addict that you are?

Ya, that's what I thought? :-)

But don't fret, because the All-Star festivities are upon us, with the skills competition and the All-Star game on deck. So enjoy the break from the intensity of the regular season, and soak in the fun that is the ASG!

Hockey News

RDS - Jeremy Roenick comprend bien Subban

TSN - FLAMES TRADE F MORRISON TO BLACKHAWKS FOR BLUELINER CONNELLY

PENGUINS' CROSBY RESUMES SKATING IN LOS ANGELES

SENATORS' ALFREDSSON HOPES TO RETURN FOR 2012-13 SEASON

CONCUSSION TALK SURFACES AT NHL'S ALL-STAR WEEKEND IN OTTAWA

DREGER'S MAILBAG: QUESTIONS ON WINGS, HABS AND CANUCKS

MCKENZIE: IS STARS CAPTAIN MORROW AVAILABLE FOR TRADE?

PowerScout Hockey - The 'Perfectly Built' Boston Bruins

THN - THN at the All-Star Game: Old Senators bring back old memories

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America)

Friday, January 27, 2012

NHL All-Star Game Video: Carey Price Snubs Zdeno Chara

So the NHL All-Stars did their draft yesterday and Habs goaltender, Carey Price, was selected by Team Chara.

This is perhaps a bit of a surprise considering Zdeno Chara's assistant for the draft was Joffrey Lupul, of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Still, it's all in good fun and Price will be playing alongside Chara, Tim Thomas, Lupul and others from the Bruins and Leafs.

Talk about a Northeast team!

Still, the best part about Price's selection is his surprise when he was selected. First off, he was having a drink (of what??) back stage, and quickly put it down to rush out on stage.

After that, he posed with Lupul and then completely walked past Chara and into the grandstand. Classic!

You can see by watching the video (below) that it didn't look deliberate, but man was it funny!

If you haven't seen it yet, check it out:


Enjoy the All-Star weekend!

---
Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com and featured columnist on PowerScoutHockey.com. Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny segment of The Franchise weekend morning show, on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at http://www.tsn.ca/montreal/

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter

Habs News, ASG Draft, Bulldogs to Laval, and More

Carey Price - 2012 NHL All-Star Game Fantasy Draft
Morning pucks fans.

Quiet times upon us as the All-Star break is in full swing.

For those of you wondering, Carey Price was picked 13th overall by Team Chara. He joins the other Boston representatives Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin on the squad.

I'm sure, as Habs fans, you are just thrilled by that.

On the other end, Team Alfredsson remained faithful to his team, picking Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza with their first two choices. Fellow Senator Milan Michalek eventually joined them as the 24th selection.

Habs News

HabsAddict.com - NHL All-Star Game Video: Carey Price Snubs Zdeno Chara

Hockey Inside / Out - HIO on an All-Star break

La Presse - Les Bulldogs, de Hamilton à Laval

RDS - Filiale du CH à Laval : Ottawa dit non

Hockey News

ESPN - Five Things: 2012 All-Star weekend

Sports Illustrated - Couture takes 'last-man' title from Kessel at All-Star fantasy draft

The Hockey News - Proteau: One-on-one with NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr

TSN - Thomas dodges questions about his White House snub

TSN - Projecting Canada's 2014 Olympic hockey roster



(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Habs Press Release - Canadiens Assign Andreas Engqvist to Hamilton

Canadiens assign Andreas Engqvist to the Hamilton Bulldogs

MONTREAL (January 26, 2012) – The Montreal Canadiens announced today that forward Andreas Engqvist has been assigned to the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs.

Engqvist, 24, suited up in nine games with the Canadiens this season, including last night’s contest against the Detroit Red Wings at the Bell Centre. He recorded four blocked shots and seven hits, while averaging 6:51 of ice time per game.

Assigned to the Bulldogs on December 5 the 6’01’’ and 201 lbs centre ranks second on the Bulldogs in scoring with 23 points (13 goals, 10 assists) in 27 games this season. Five of his goals were scored on the powerplay.

Engqvist registered 63 shots on goal and displays a team-leading +9 plus/minus differential.

The Stockholm-born forward Engqvist signed with the Canadiens as a free agent on July 13, 2009.

Habs Rout, Diaz at ASG, Subban Benched, and More

P.K. Subban - Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs
Wow.

The Canadiens are sure a hard team to figure out, aren't they?

Against some of the best team's in the league, the Habs find a way to post convincing wins, as they did against Boston, Philadelphia and New York earlier this season.

And, last night, they outright trounced the Detroit Red Wings to the tune of 7-2.

It is all well and good to say the Red Wings did not look sharp or their goaltending was subpar. But, 7-2 against the Red Wings is impressive regardless.

Despite the big win, a lot of the post-game talk centred - surprise! - on defenceman P.K. Subban.

The blueliner was benched for the entire middle frame after his elbowing penalty against Dan Cleary cancelled a late first period power play. He was back for the third frame.

Controversy surrounding P.K?

The more things change, the more they stay the same I suppose. 

Habs News

HabsAddict.com - Canadiens - Red Wings: Habs Trounce Wings 7-2 in Rare Offensive Explosion

HabsWorld.net - Another Habs representative at All-Star Weekend

Hockey Inside / Out - Sailing into the break on a W and a prayer

La Presse - Le Canadien : aussi bipolaire que ses fans…

RDS - Une direction à deux têtes

TSN - Habs' Diaz, Rangers' Hagelin added to All-Star rookie roster

Hockey News

ESPN - Five Things: 2012 All-Star weekend

The Hockey News - Kennedy: NHL needs Ovechkin at All-Star Game

Sports Illustrated - Ovechkin dims his own star


(Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images North America)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Canadiens - Red Wings: Habs Trounce Wings 7-2 in Rare Offensive Explosion

The Montreal Canadiens defeated the league leading Detroit Red Wings last night at the Bell Centre.

Not only did they beat them, but they absolutely blew them out of the rink. The Habs took a 4-0 lead into the first intermission, 6-0 lead into the second and closed it out 7-2.

David Desharnais had three points (2G, 1A), Rene Bourque had two points (1G, 1A), Erik Cole had three points (1G, 2A), and Max Pacioretty had two points (1G, 1A), among others.

In fact, there were only seven players who didn't get their names on the scoresheet for Montreal.

And, um, that was exactly what you were expecting right?

Final score: Habs 7 - Wings 2

Game Notes

The Great Dane rising - Lars Eller played another excellent game last night, displaying his nose for the net on a consistent basis. On an early drive, Eller skated into the corner and charged out with puck, sweeping out front for a scoring chance.

The play illustrates how high Eller's confidence has risen under Coach Cunneyworth, and he is surely the player who has benefited most under the new regime.

Gomez doing what he needs to - Scott Gomez, who has been putting in an honest effort every night since his return from injury, had some jump in his game. So much so, that he was the man behind the Habs first goal of the night.

Gomez didn't score, but he gained the zone with speed and conviction, the way he used to. The difference on the goal, was that he had a streaking 6'2 Rene Bourque barreling to the net at full speed. The big winger's drive opened up space for Gomez to skate up the left wing and fire a cross-crease pass to an active target.

The puck deflected off of Bourque's leg and into the net.

Not only does the goal show what Bourque brings to the table, but it also shows that Gomez is much more effective with a big, scoring winger. What a concept.

Oh, and did anyone else notice the Habs are 4-1-1 since Gomez was back in the lineup? Just sayin'.

Happiness of the night - Rookie defenseman, Alexei Emelin, scored his first NHL career goal, on a bullet from the point. And man were his teammates (and him) ever happy.

In case you're counting, that now leaves only four Canadiens without a goal so far this season: Carey Price, Peter Budaj, Andreas Engqvist and Scott Gomez.

Uh huh.

The Wings with their heads elsewhere - It was surprising, to say the least, to see the Habs skate into the first intermission with a 4-0 lead. But, if you think about it, maybe it was to be expected.

Playing their final game before the All-Star break against one of the worst teams in the league, the Red Wings just didn't seem to have their heads in the game.

Bad turnovers, porous defensive zone coverage, missed assignments. These were not the first overall Red Wings. No, this was a team that looked like they were expecting an easy night.

Moreover, they played like a team who was looking past the "gimme" against the Habs and towards a little R and R.

It just goes to show you that you can never take any team for granted in this league!

Burning man - Max Pacioretty scored the Habs fifth goal of the night—it feels strange even writing that. The goal was his 17th of the season in 49 games for a 0.369 goal per game pace, good for a 30-goal season over 82 games.

Moreover, with five goals in his last six games—after going 10 games with none—Pacioretty is unquestionably on fire!

Baby sat - P.K. Subban, who got a well publicized tongue-lashing from assistant coach Randy Ladouceur at practice this week, was up to his old tricks again.

He had an early turnover, flinging the puck to the Wings' player right at the Habs blueline, before taking a bad elbowing penalty with the Habs on the PP.

When the second period started the coaching staff had seen enough and glued Subban's butt to the bench. He was back in the third period but played a total of 14:36 minutes against the Wings, a far cry from his usual 23-plus minutes.

And good on the coaching staff, I say. They had been looking for an opportunity to discipline Subban and, with the Habs blowing out the opposition they sat him.

I have no problem with the move, as it was done with the Habs having the luxury of a four-goal lead. With the All-Star break upon him, Subban will have time to think about things and maybe do a little attitude adjusting.

Stat of the night - Four. That is the number of goals the Habs scored in the first period. That marks the first time this season the Red Wings have allowed four goals against in one period.

Question of the night - With the Habs now eight points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, and only 33 games to play, will the Habs make the playoffs?

Up next - The All-Star break. The Habs don't play again until next Tuesday when they take on the Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre.

And this blogger is also taking a break, going to Barcelona on Sunday and back on the 8th. Until then, enjoy the All-Star festivities and the rare blowout victory by the Habs.

If I don't post anything before Sunday (which is unlikely but possible), I'll see you all on the flip side!

---
Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com and featured columnist on PowerScoutHockey.com. Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny segment of The Franchise weekend morning show, on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at http://www.tsn.ca/montreal/

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter


(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Habs by the numbers: Should the Montreal Canadiens Trade P.K. Subban?

Hi there Habs Addicts!

My name is Frank Dumais, and I recently joined the HabsAddict.com writing team.

I bring a different angle to the table, namely stats, and some of you might know me as @NHL_Stats, on Twitter.

This is my first piece entitled "Habs By the Numbers", and it will be weekly look at the Habs results and/or what's making Canadiens news this week. The twist? It's all done by looking at the stats.

I hope you'll enjoy reading me as much as I enjoy writing for you!

So, without further ado, let's delve right into what (or should I say who) has certainly been the talk of the town all week: No. 76, Mr. Pernell Karl Subban.

A GM on the move

With Habs GM, Pierre Gauthier's, extended visit to SoCal last week, the "insiders" had a royal feast. P.K. was going to be used as the "trade bait" in order to (finally!) get the ever so needed and desired big first line centerman.

My job here is not to inform you of the trade possibilities (what team, what player). I'll leave that to the real experts, and there are plenty of them right here on this fine blog.

What I will do, though, is explain through stats why it would be a catastrophe to trade "Monsieur Subban" away from the CH.

How does PK compare?

The first research I did was fairly simple, but yielded surprising results. I wanted a list, since the lockout (2005-06), of all defensemen 22 years old or younger (as of Feb 1), that had played at least 126 regular season games (that's how many games PK has played).

I took that list and sorted it by "Points per game".

Here's the actual output of the query:


As you can see, Dion Phaneuf is first on the list.

But P.K. is a nice surprise in the sixth spot, after Phaneuf, Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty, Tyler Myers and Alex Pietrangelo. Now, some might say "PPG" is not the only characteristic to judge the quality of a defenseman. It might not even be the best one! But it shows P.K. among a group of elite d-men. And Subban is categorized as an "offensive" defenseman.

So to me, the analysis is interesting.

Also important to note, out of the top-6, including Subban, only one of the players has ever been traded: Phaneuf (after his 5th season at 24 years old). Also, if you look at Tyler Myers' numbers, you'll notice that he's been having very difficult second and third year.

What about the playoffs?

So now, I'll take this exercise one step further, and look at playoff numbers:


The results are even more surprising. This time P.K. comes up on top out of all d-men since 2005-06, 22 years old or younger, having played 21 or more playoffs game, sorted by PPG.

Subban has been more productive than players such as Kris Letang, Matt Carle, Jason Demers, Andrej Meszaros, Marc-Edouard Vlasic. P.K.'s playoff point production has actually exceeded that of Letang by 35%.

Not too shabby for a guy people want to trade!

Finally, if we look at Subban's usage compared to others, in terms of "time on ice", of the top-10 (in the "regular season" stats above), P.K. comes in at No. 5.

And in the playoffs?

He still comes up on top at No.1, with over 23 minutes of usage per game.

And some are now wondering if trading Subban for a No. 1 centerman is a good idea? The numbers speak for themselves and they show the Subban is right up there with some of the best in his class.

I, for one, don't think the young rear-guard should go anywhere.

---
Frank Dumais is a freelance writer, currently contributing to HabsAddict.com “Habs By the numbers” weekly column. He writes on current Habs topics, but with a “numbers twist”.

Follow Frank on Twitter


(Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images North America)

Habs/Wings, Engqvist up, Thomas and More

Andreas Engqvist - Minnesota Wild v Montreal Canadiens
Morning Habs fans!

One last game before the All-Star break for nos Canadiens.

In fact, tonight's game against the Red Wings is the only contest in the league. The Habs will not hit the ice until next Tuesday, January 31st to face off against the equally lowly Buffalo Sabres.

With Travis Moen and Petteri Nokelainen likely out for tonight's game, Andreas Engqvist was recalled by the Habs.

While he was not especially memorable in his first tour of duty with the Canadiens, it is worth noting that the Swedish centre has been lighting up the AHL since being sent down.  In 27 games with the Bulldogs, Engqvist has collected 23 points.


Habs News

HabsAddict.com - The Montreal Canadiens' Best Bait for the NHL Trade deadline

Hockey Inside / Out - Wings fly into Bell Centre

Hockey Inside / Out - Engqvist is back

La Presse - Affaire Thomas: les Américains du CH mal à l'aise

Montreal Gazette - McGill alumnus Babcock pays a visit

RDS - Roy suggère Mikhail Grigorenko au CH...

Hockey News

PowerScout Hockey - Great Goaltending Has Rangers, Bruins and Blues Flying

CBC - Thomas' White House snub, All-Star Game + 30 Thoughts

The Hockey News - Boylen: Roy Sommer's long journey to 500 wins

The Hockey News - Campbell: Admiring Thomas' stance

Sports Illustrated - Why Tim Thomas’ White House snub was wrong

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Habs News, Rants, Thomas, Ovechkin and More

Jacques Martin - Montreal Canadiens v Philadelphia Flyers - Game Five
Morning puck fans.

According to a report on RDS, Jacques Martin still owns a role within the Canadiens organization.

This only adds to a point I have made earlier this season: the Habs keep far too many remnants of previous management teams.

Bob Gainey, who was replaced by his assistant Pierre Gauthier, remains as a consultant for Geoff Molson.

Randy Cunneyworth, who was an assistants under Jacques Martin, took over the coaching reigns.

Clement Jodoin, an assitant coach in the Michel Therrien era, heads the farm team in Hamilton.

Patrick Boivin, Pierre's son, is a Vice President with the team. As is Rejean Houle.

My point is that, individually, these men are doubtlessly competent.

Collectively, they risk forming a culture of stagnation and failure.

In the kitchen, there are only so many things you can do when you always cook with the same ingredients. But when you change some, add some, use them differently, a world of possibility opens up.

It is likewise in the Canadiens' front office: time to change the ingredients.

---

On another note, I am certain most of you have heard that Tim Thomas skipped his team's trip to the White House by now.

Never mind the absurd politics behind this - Thomas does not want the rich to be taxed? He believes unions should have less power in negotiations? - it was an oddly distracting decision in a league that so seldom tolerates any one stepping out of line.

P.K Subban, Linus Omark and Artem Anisimov, to name a few, have been cast in ill-light due to some of their outside the norm gestures.

Yet the Bruins seem rather accepting of Thomas' decision to forfeit this trip.

In short, being talkative, creative or over exuberant on the ice is not tolerated in the NHL. Embarassing your team by not going to the White House - because, you know, you won the Stanley Cup - is all good?

Hockey's culture never ceases to perplex me.


Habs News

HabsAddict.com - The Montreal Canadiens' Best Bait for the NHL Trade deadline

Hockey Inside / Out - Back to work

La Presse - Échanger Subban? Pourquoi pas?

RDS - Subban ne devrait pas quitter Montréal

Hockey News

ESPN - Tim Thomas put himself above team

The Hockey News - Campbell: Admiring Thomas' stance

The Hockey News - Campbell: The impact of back-to-back games

TSN - Ovechkin suspended three games for hit on Michalek

USA Today - Fights down, but concussion fears aren't to blame


(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America)

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Montreal Canadiens' Best Bait for the NHL Trade deadline

With a little more than one month to go before the NHL 2012 trade deadline (February 27th, 2012 at 3PM EDT), the Montreal Canadiens are desperately trying to make the playoffs.

After 48 games, the Canadiens hold the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference, eight points behind the Washington Capitals who hold the eighth and final playoff spot (53 points). The Habs have not made things easier on themselves, playing weak hockey over their last ten games and going 4-4-2 in the process.

After trading disgruntled sniper Mike Cammalleri to the Calgary Flames in exchange for rugged forward Rene Bourque on, look for GM Pierre Gauthier to continue making changes.

While some fans still hope the Canadiens will be buyers this season, it would be wise for the organization to retool its depleted farm system, acquire prospects and picks to make the team younger.

According to Sports Club Stats, the Canadiens have a mere 14.8% chance of making the playoffs this season.

With that in mind, let's have a look at the Canadiens' best potential trade baits before or on trade deadline day:

Andrei Kostitsyn

The inconsistent winger will certainly attract teams looking for an offensive boost, despite his inconsistent play. The Russian sniper, who will turn 27 in February, will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

AK46, who is making $3.25 million this season, has expressed his interest to stay in Montreal, willing to take a home-town discount. But the 6'0'', 215 lb, has only notched 11 goals and added 11 assists for 21 points in 38 contests with Montreal.

One of the streakiest players in the league, Kostitsyn has reached the 20-goal plateau three times during his career which makes him an attractive and affordable acquisition for a team looking to add depth up front.

Montreal should really consider trading him as he likely fetch a pick and a prospect at the deadline. If he's not signed in the upcoming two or three weeks, look for AK46 to be donning another sweater by March.

POTENTIAL TEAMS INTERESTED: Penguins, Devils, Panthers, Predators, Wild and Kings

Chris Campoli

A few days before the season started, the Canadiens signed him to a $1.75-million, one-year contract as an insurance policy. Campoli, who was mainly signed because All-Star Andrei Markov had a few setbacks during his rehabilitation from off-season knee injury, sustained a hamstring injury in his first game with the Habs.

A frequent healthy scratch after his return from injury, Campoli never really settled in his role as a seventh defenseman. In 13 games, the 27 year-old blue liner has only one goal and one assist.

Look for Campoli to be traded for a 4th or 5th round draft pick before the deadline.

POTENTIAL TEAMS INTERESTED: Blackhawks, Sharks, Devils and Blues

Hal Gill

An experienced penalty killer, Gill has seen his ice-time dwindle under Randy Cunneyworth. But he remains a force on the man-disadvantage, as evidenced by the Habs 89.4% penalty kill efficiency, good for first place in the NHL.

A Stanley Cup winner, Gill is the kind of player that is in high demand come deadline day. His playoff experience can certainly help a team looking for a veteran presence on their bottom defensive pairing.

Look for Gill to fetch a second round draft pick.

POTENTIAL TEAMS INTERESTED: Flyers, Penguins, Sharks, Panthers, Stars and Avalanche

Travis Moen

Another Stanley Cup winner, Moen is a proven veteran that offers size, grit and toughness. Moen can also chip in the occasional goal as shown by his 16 points (9G, 7A) this season.

Making only $1.5 million this year, Moen is also an adept penalty killer and a good skater. The 6'2, 217 lbs left winger will be a hot commodity in the next few weeks.

While the Habs may be interested in re-signing the 29 year-old, it would be better to maximize his value and trade him for a prospect and a 2nd or 3rd round pick.

POTENTIAL TEAMS INTERESTED: Canucks, Red Wings, Sharks, Predators and Senators

Yannick Weber

After a tough start, the power-play specialist has been in and out of the line-up this season. Weber, who has scored all of his four goals with the man-advantage, has also been used as the team's 12th forward during many games.

Making $850,000 this year and next, Weber doesn't seem to fit in the organization's plans anymore. Especially with the emergence of countryman Raphael Diaz and bruiser Alexei Emelin.

The Habs will be looking for another prospect, most likely a forward, in exchange for the Swiss defender.

POTENTIAL TEAMS INTERESTED: Oilers, Islanders, Lightning and Blue Jackets

Mathieu Darche

The journeyman forward is having a very tough season with Montreal, after scoring 12 goals and adding 14 assists for 26 points in 59 games last season. This year, Darche has been unproductive to say the least, notching only two goals and adding four helpers for six points in 48 games.

The impending UFA might interest a team looking for depth on the fourth line and help on the penalty kill. Darche is making only $700,000, so his salary will be easy to fit under the cap.

Darche could fetch a late round pick or a disappointing prospect.

Scott Gomez

Frankly, most Canadiens' fans would like to see Gomez traded for a bag of pucks and a used jock-strap, but it won't happen this year.

With a cap hit of $7,357,143 this season, the Alaskan center has not scored a goal in more than 50 games—his last goal was on February 5th, 2011.

This season, Gomez has again been a major disappointment for the Habs, playing only 18 games and recording a brutal six assists.

Gomez is also -19 over the past two campaigns in Montreal. No one, not even the Habs want him. Gomez is simply going anywhere.

So what do you think? Who do you think are the mostly likely players to be traded?

---
Follow Fred on Twitter for more updates on the Canadiens and the NHL in general.

(Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images North America)

Habs News, Odds, Leafs Fight, Ference and More

Carey Price - Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs
Morning puck fans.

Based on the season thus far, the last weekend was sort of what you would expect from the Habs.

A miserable blown lead one game followed by a solid, above-average performance the next.

In the end, with three points in two games, the Canadiens saw their odds of making the playoffs rise to 14%.

They would have to win somewhere upwards of 20 of their next 34 games in order to get the requisite points for post-season participation.

If nothing else, Montreal, aided by a slew of three-point games on the weekend, put a dent in the Leafs playoff hopes as well.

In fact, the Leafs appear to have hit a rough patch, as Joey Crabb and Carl Gunnarson even dropped the gloves at practice yesterday.

Schadenfreude? A bit, yes.

Habs News

HabsWorld.net - HW Recap: Staying afloat for now

Hockey Inside / Out - Canadiens off on Monday

RDS - Le CH acclamé par 18 000 enfants au CB

TSN - Bartlett: Habs return to Montreal in good spirits

Hockey News

Hockeybuzz - Leafs Typical, Not Alarming

Sports Illustrated - Wobbly Panthers keep the faith

TSN - Bruins' Ference suspended three games for hit on McDonagh

(Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images North America)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Habs/Leafs post game, Bruins Ference hearing, Campoli's value, Rumours and more

Morning puck addicts!

Your Montreal Canadiens played and defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs last night at the ACC in Toronto.

This was yet another must-win for the still mathematically alive, but mostly otherwise dead, Habs.

Including a 4-2 shootout loss to the Pens, Montreal has picked up three out of a possible four points in their last two games. They'll have to continue to collect points at that rate it they have any hope of making the playoffs.

But, in my opinion, the mountain is just too high.

Montreal plays their final game before the all-star break, Wednesday, against the red hot Red Wings. After that, the Habs play the Sabres, Devils, Capitals and Jets. These are four teams that are hardly tearing it up in the standings, and with whom the Habs are in direct competition for a playoff spot.

Anything less than three out of four wins just won't be enough. But let's see how they do, Wednesday, starting with the Red Wings. Oh how sweet it would be to ride into the All-Star break with five out of six points in their last three games!

Habs News

HabsAddict.com - The Sunday Shinny - Jan 22. 2012 - Price's Play, Subban, Spacek's comments and more

Hockey Inside/Out - And on the seventh day...

RDS - Le Canadien tient le coup et l'emporte

Habsworld.net - Around the Boards: Campoli's Value

Hockey News

TSN - TRADECENTRE: SUNDAY'S RUMOURS FROM AROUND THE NHL

BRUINS' FERENCE TO FACE HEARING FOR HIT ON MCDONAGH

SIEGEL: LEAFS 'DISAPPOINTED' WITH MISSED OPPORTUNITY

ESPN - Marc Savard's life still unsettled

THN - VIDEO: One-on-one with 2012 NHL Entry Draft prospect Jacob Trouba

Dr. Boucher: On-ice testing with the Philadelphia Flyers

Spector's Hockey - Latest on the Canadiens – January 21, 2012

(Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images North America)

The Sunday Shinny - Jan 22. 2012 - Price's Play, Subban, Spacek's comments and more

This week on the Sunday Shinny, Gary Whittaker, Nick Murdocco and regular panelist, Kamal Panesar, welcome Robyn Flynn to the show.

Topics include:

-Habs vs Leafs. Win.. but Carey Price needed to be the star
-Getting back on the “Habs need to mentor their young” topic
-Twitter question of the day: where are you as far as the Habs Bandwagon is concerned? Many different responses!
-Spacek calls Montreal canadiens environment a Circus, but Gorges is a circus type of guy
-Should Habs have given interim Captaincy to someone else given Gionta injury
-Number crunching for Habs playoff hopes...kinda...

Click play below to listen in (total listening time 53:26):


(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images North America)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Habs/Pens, Leafs preview, Spacek speaks out, Rumours and more

Morning puck addicts!

The Montreal Canadiens lost again last night. That's not really anything too surprising given their play of late.

But what makes this win more painful was the 4-2 lead the Habs held to start the third period. And this despite being outshot 22-18 through two periods.

Ouch.

But the Pens turned it on in the third as the Habs now patented third period collapse reared it's ugly head.

I guess the coach really doesn't know what to do when he's putting Scott Gomez, who hasn't scored in almost a year, out there in the shootout. Montreal picks up one point in the shootout loss but, with 43, sits three points out of last in the East.

But at least they scored a powerplay goal yesterday!

Habs News

Hockey Inside/Out - On to TO

RDS - L'histoire se répète pour le Canadien

Spacek sur le CH : « un gros gâchis »

THN - Campbell: Why the Lightning and Canadiens should trade coaches

ESPN - Canadiens-Maple Leafs Preview

Hockey News

TSN - BEAUCHEMIN, DUCKS COME TO TERMS ON THREE-YEAR EXTENSION

TRADECENTRE: FRIDAY'S RUMOURS FROM AROUND THE NHL

DREGER'S MAILBAG: KHABIBULIN, THE FLAMES AND SEMIN

SIEGEL: LEAFS HOME TO “MOST INTERESTING MAN IN THE WORLD”

ESPN - Daily Debate: What's up with the Islanders?

THN - VIDEO: THN Puck Panel – Claude Giroux having Hart Trophy-worthy season

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images North America)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Habs/Pens, Rumors, Lottery, Selling and More

Tyler Toffoli Tyler Toffoli shakes hands with team personnel after being drafted in the second round by the Los Angeles Kings during day two of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
Morning hockey fans.

Last night the New York Islanders posted an impressive 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

So, why the heck am I mentioning this on a Canadiens related website?

Because, with the win, the Islanders are now ahead of the Habs in the standings. And, perhaps more saliently, le tricolore now finds itself in the bottom-five of the overall league standings. 

All things considered, at this point it would be best if Montreal finished in such a position. By being in the bottom-five, they are eligible to win the first overall pick in the draft lottery. 

Frankly, any top-five pick can pay rapid dividends.

Last year, Adam Larsson was drafted fourth overall.

In 2010, Cam Fowler, Jeff Skinner and Evegeny Kuznetsov were all drafted outside of the first quintet. 

In 2009, Evander Kane was picked fourth, followed by Brayden Schenn and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

In short, what am I saying? 



(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Habs Roundup: Pacioretty, Subban Trade, Price Contract, PP woes and more

So the Montreal Canadiens lost yet another game last night. This time to the struggling Washington Capitals who were missing top defenseman Mike Green, among others, and who was playing backup goalie Michael Neuvirth.

Still, Montreal was unable to score, getting shutout 3-0 and going a brutal 0-for-7 on the powerplay.

Yikes!

The swooning powerplay continues to be one the top problems for Montreal this season. And that's no small feat!

But aside from the struggling powerplay, there are a bunch of other interesting storylines surrounding the Montreal Canadiens of late.

This week's roundup takes a look at just a few.

Big guys

Erik Cole's addition to the Canadiens roster has been the UFA pickup of the season. He is enjoying a sensational year, having already potted 17 goals through 46 games—he's on pace for a 30-goal season.

Cole also leads all Habs point-getters with 33.

Cole's frequent linemate, Max Pacioretty, has had a bit of a different season. He started strong then, after getting suspended for a hit to the head of Kris Letang, looked tentative since his return.

In fact, he looked so tentative that he went 10 games between goals, finally getting back on the scoresheet in a 3-1 win over the Lightning.

Since that goal, Pacioretty looks like a player renewed. He is once again driving to the net with authority and using his speed to make things difficult for the opposition. As a result, he has six points (4G, 2A) and is plus three over the last six games.

Coupled with David Desharnais, who is quietly tied with Tomas Plekanec (31 points) for third overall in team scoring, that line is the Habs most consistent threat night after night.

P.K. Subban trade rumours

If the rumours of Carey Price signing a 7-10 year, $7 million per deal, imminently, and the trade of Michael Cammalleri wasn't exciting enough, there is now talk that Subban could be moved.

I know, I know, there are a lot of rumours floating out there right now. But when TSN 990's Tony Marinaro says Subban is being shopped, you have to believe there is more than just smoke to this rumour.

My HabsAddict.com colleague, Louis Moustakas, went into a lot of the reasons not to trade P.K., and I tend to agree with him.

The caveat, for me, is that if Subban is being shopped it can only be for an elite player. And I mean elite. I'm not talking Tomas Plekanec, I'm talking Ryan Getzlaf. I'm not talking Josh Gorges, I'm talking Shea Weber.

Elite. That is the only way you trade a player as young as Subban who has as much upside. Otherwise, this whole thing is going to hell in a hand-basket real fast.

This is a throw-down!

So it turns out the Habs newest addition, Rene Bourque, can fight.

Bourque played his first game against the Caps since his suspension—Bourque was suspended for five games for elbowing Nicklas Backstrom in the head. Prior to the match, Bourque said that he expected them to come after him and thought he'd have to answer the bell.

Well he was right on both counts and answer the bell he did.

Challenged by Caps tough guy, Matt Hendricks, the two threw down 1:15 into the first period.

Here's the vid:


Ohh man, did that ever not turn out well for Hendricks. When was the last time you saw a Canadiens player drop the gloves and put such a convincing beating on an opponent?

Ya, I can't remember either. It's nice to see some true toughness in the Habs lineup for the first time in years.

Struggling PP

So if you haven't heard by now, the Habs have the worst powerplay in the league. I guess that Tomas Kaberle pickup didn't work so well afterall.

I wonder what happened to all the people who flamed me for saying it was a brutal move at the time. Crawled back under their bridges I suspect.

Yes, Kaberle is a better player than Jaroslav Spacek, but he doesn't have a recent track record for helping teams' powerplays.

For more on that see Bruins, Boston.

Kaberle aside, I am left wondering why Coach Cunneyworth isn't mixing it up more on the PP. Rene Bourque, a guy who is big and can crash the net, continues to sit on the outside looking in.

Lars Eller is also a player who isn't getting PP time.

I'd change both of those things up, ASAP. The other thing I'd do is to try Gorges on the point, as suggested by some in the HabsAddict.com commentariat.

He may not have the hardest shot in the league, but it's hard enough. More importantly, however, it's almost always on net. If you watch the times when Gorges shoots it's always a low, hard shot, perfect for generating rebounds and deflections..

Gorges' slappers don't have Subban-like velocity but, as I've said before, accuracy is what is missing from Subban's game.

I don't know, the coach has got to try something so why not give it a shot? What's it going to do, make them lose more games? Somehow, I think that would be a difficult task.

---
Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com and featured columnist on PowerScoutHockey.com. Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny segment of The Franchise weekend morning show, on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990), every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at http://www.tsn.ca/montreal/

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter


(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Habs/Caps, Probability, New GM and More

Alex Ovechkin - Washington Capitals v Montreal Canadiens
Morning puck fans.

A win last night would have put the Montreal Canadiens within six points of the Washington Capitals and the final playoff berth in the East.

Instead, the Habs failed to pounce on a team that was playing the tail end of back-to-back games. 

Now, according to SportClub Stats, the Canadiens have but a 9.9% chance of making the post-season. Perhaps more tellingly, due to last night's loss their odds went down a whopping 7%.

In the end, this team simply seems unable rise to the occasion.

Mind you, I rose last night.

I rose, changed the channel and stopped watching. Choking a six minute man-advantage makes people do that.

At least this morning's Habs News section is richly filled.

Habs News

HabsAddict.com - Montreal Canadiens Plus/Minus: Size and Trading P.K Subban

HabsWorld.net - HabsWorld Podcast Episode 6

Hockey Inside / Out - About last night...

Montreal Gazette - Habs of '70s had fewer Cup obstacles

Montreal Gazette - Sinking Habs shut out by Capitals

La Presse - Le Canadien: des allures de pâté chinois!

RDS - Le CH s'accroche, mais sans conviction

TSN - Dreger: Many intriguing names if Canadiens need new GM

Hockey News

ESPN - It'll be a Wild ride to make the playoffs

Sports Illustrated - Capitals’ changes not all for the best

The Hockey News - Kennedy: Stellar goalies position Blues as early playoff dark horse


(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Montreal Canadiens Plus/Minus: Size and Trading P.K Subban

P.K. Subban - Montreal Canadiens v Philadelphia Flyers
Did you hear?

Mike Cammalleri got traded to... oh wait, everyone knows that already.

Perhaps its time to talk about something else then.

Moving away from the Habs' most recent transaction, this week's edition of Plus/Minus looks at the Canadiens new found size and notion of trading P.K Subban.

Plus:

Size on wings: It seems that, for the first time in almost a decade, the Canadiens have size on the wings. Size across all four lines.

Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty are hard charging, big men lighting it up on the Habs first line.

Rene Bourque and Andrei Kostitsyn, while streaky, are large, imposing players able to score 25 goals a year and deliver the occasional solid check.

Travis Moen is an experienced grinder with Stanley Cup experience who is unafraid to drop the gloves.

Michael Blunden has great speed and zeal, giving the squad's bottom-six a crash-and-bang element it lacked earlier this season.

The Canadiens' campaign has certainly not gone according to plan, but at the very least they seem to be building an identity as a bigger, tougher to play against group.

Minus:

Trading P.K: Many media and analysts, namely those on l'Antichambre, seem like they would seriously consider moving P.K Subban?

Why?

Part of the right package for an impact player, it is natural for the Canadiens to consider moving P.K Subban. Even then, it would seem foolhardy for the Habs to move their most talented player.

Over the years, Montreal has lost blueliners by the dozen.

Stephane Robidas, Ron Hainsey, Mike Komisarek, Mark Streit, Sheldon Souray, Francois Beauchemin and Ryan McDonagh all ply their trade elsehwere now and most of them are impact players on their respective team.

Moreover, most of the above were lost in the early stages of their careers. For various reasons, the organization was either unwilling or unable to invest time, or money, into them.

But now, some appear gun-ho about moving P.K Subban. Because he is overzealous? Because he takes to many chances? Because he lacks patience?

Wow, I am sure he is the first offensive-minded defenceman to have those flaws.

Honestly, this minus extends all the way to those who are in such a hurry to move Yannick Weber as well. He is 23 years old, not 32.

Let's learn from the organization's past mistakes. The Habs have lost enough highly competent defenders over the last ten years.

Let's give these players time to develop.

---
Louis is an Associate Editor at HabsAddict.com and an Editor at HabsWorld.net. Born in Chicago, Louis grew up in Quebec City where he earned Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Université Laval.

He currently resides in Ottawa and works for the Coaching Association of Canada. Find him on twitter @LouisMoustakas

(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Canadiens/Capitals, Scoreboard Watching, Martin on RDS and More

Alex Ovechkin - New York Islanders v Washington Capitals
Morning puck fans.

Well, yesterday I mentionned that Tuesday would be an important night for scoreboard watching.

Turns out the scoreboard helped the Habs.

Winnipeg lost 5-1 to the New Jersey Devils.

Toronto lost the battle of Ontario 3-2 in regulation.

Washington failed versus the Islanders, getting shut out 3-0.

In the end, three of the four teams directly ahead of Montreal lost last night. And, tonight, the Canadiens have the opportunity to make up ground against a Capitals team on the tail end of back-to-back contests.

If there is to be any hope of Montreal making the post-season, and for the record I believe they will not, they must capitalize on opportunities such as the one presented to them this evening.



Habs News




(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images North America)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Roz's Rant: Montreal Canadiens' Glass is Half Full

Lars Eller Jaroslav Halak #41 of the St. Louis Blues stops the puck in front of Lars Eller #81 of the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on January 10, 2012 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
It seems a lot of my friends both online and off are finding it hard to notice much good in this season's edition of the Montreal Canadiens.

Being a glass half empty kind of gal myself I'm not usually a cheerleader type either.

Even two years ago some of my fellow bloggers - most of whom write for this site - and I all pointed out that the team was going to struggle in the future and pay for the Habs Cinderella run dearly, though we hoped to be wrong.

Sometimes it's not always hindsight that's 20/20, and not all Habs fans and bloggers are clueless zealots despite the stereotypes that get bandied about.

But now that the Canadiens have in fact imploded as predicted and are all but guaranteed to miss this year's playoffs, there are still reasons I enjoy watching them and reasons to look forward to the future of this club instead of merely bracing for impact.

The Lars Eller Story

When Jaroslav Halak got traded I was miserable but not because I preferred him to Carey Price. I wanted to keep them both, and in all honesty I'd never even heard of Lars Eller.

By the end of Eller's first year on the team I was in favour of the trade and now it's clear he's going to form part of the Canadiens spine in the rebuilding process.

His talent, size and speed and the hard work and development of his confidence and skills have been a pleasure to watch.

Pierre Gauthier made a good deal here, and while I was negative at first I'm enjoying eating the humble pie he served up with this trade.

The Josh Gorges Signing

Also in this vein, I'll cop to getting ticked about only a one year deal for Josh Gorges last summer. He has long been a rudder on the blueline for the Habs and, while I wasn't sold on the Andrei Markov deal, I thought Gorges had at least earned a similar vote of confidence from the management.

The fact that this club finally broke with recent tradition and locked up a key player during the season, was a bit of an admission that they had done a disservice to Gorges and were keen to correct that oversight.

The Youth Core

The Habs have some nice talent to help build upon moving forward in the aforementioned two plus PK Subban, Carey Price and Alexei Emelin. I also like David Desharnais and Louis Leblanc and am pleased by reports of Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu's progress.

True, there may be no legitimate superstars amongst the group but they are young, hard working, skilled players with more upside than down. It's crucial that the Canadiens have a solid pipeline moving forward.

Once the team is officially out of the running I'm hoping to see more of the youngsters get their chance to pick up some valuable ice time and experience.

Death of the Jacques Martin System

I've never been one for trap hockey. A good defense is always important, but not to the point where it smothers creativity and offense.

To me, watching a team try not to get scored upon is like trying to keep your tongue out of the sore hole in your gum where your tooth used to be. It's terribly painful to endure.

Under Randy Cunneyworth, this team now employs a two man forecheck and, though they struggle to score, they at least mount a consistent offense to go with the defense instead of sitting on their heels waiting for the opponent to make a critical mistake.

I am no longer immensely surprised when I see three Habs forwards down low fighting hard in front of the net, and a few weeks ago witnessing something like that would have made me pause to check my alcohol levels.

The Randy Cunneyworth Accountability System

Under Martin, veterans on the team enjoyed close to 20 minutes a night of ice time regardless of actual performance. They also enjoyed time on the power play or penalty kill regardless of actual skill set, something that routinely set my teeth on edge.

Under Cunneyworth, ice time is earned regardless of status on the squad, something Mike Cammalleri learned the hard way and Lars Eller has taken advantage of.

There are still lapses as to usage of players on special teams, but since the entire roster seems to be struggling I'm not going to rag on Cunneyworth for grasping at straws.

The Redirect

Whether it's a retooling of the team or a full on rebuild remains to be seen, but the fact is this organization is finally left with no choice but to stop clinging to the past and separate the wheat from the chaff. Frankly it's overdue.

For expensive underperformers this will likely mean a new team or retirement. For the youth core it will mean an opportunity to shine.

Bob Gainey's vision of a small speedy team helmed by a coach who would be better served with big bodied stalwarts is now officially dead and gone. Gauthier has even admitted something that Habs fans have stated for awhile now - this team needs more size.

It also needs more consistency in scoring and better unity and cohesion both on the ice and in the locker room. I don't think Larry Carriere was put in position for his overlooked coaching savvy, but so he could finally view, first hand, what needed to be done and help the brass get it done.

It's a small thing, but putting Carriere behind the bench was perhaps one of the first clear indicators that the Habs were serious about moving in a new direction. They now want to better contend in today's NHL and forget the fairytale of two seasons past.

There are problems that will remain in the near future, but steps are finally being taken to address the ones that this club has routinely ignored for far too long.

There can be no progress without change, just stagnation. It's a harsh lesson to learn for the team and for its long-suffering fans.

Now that the Montreal Canadiens are embracing change I find myself growing quietly optimistic about where this team is finally headed.

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Rosalyn used to frequent the old Forum during her early childhood when her father was a corporate season ticket holder, where she fell in love with Larry Robinson, so her lifelong obsession with the Habs is entirely his fault.

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)